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Macedonia opposition says name change an issue of conscience

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia’s conservative opposition leader has told supporters to vote “with their conscience” in a Sept. 30 referendum on changing the country’s name.

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE is opposed to the name change to “North Macedonia,” which will resolve a long-standing dispute with Greece.

Changing the name will mean Greece will drop its veto over the country joining NATO.

Greece has worried that its neighbor’s name implied a claim on the ancient heritage of its own region of Macedonia.

In remarks published Wednesday on his party’s website, leader Hristijan Mickoski says the vote was up to “each individual, with their conscience and morals” to “decide what’s best for their family and our beloved Macedonia.”

Macedonia’s center-left government launched its referendum campaign earlier this week, urging people to support the name change.